Discovery Project Manager

Geneva, Switzerland
[Closing date: 20 January 


Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) is a collaborative, patients’ needs-driven, non-profit drug research and development (R&D) organization that is developing new treatments for Neglected Diseases (

DNDi has a large portfolio of R&D activities covering 7 disease areas: human African trypanosomiasis, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, filarial diseases, mycetoma, paediatric HIV, and hepatitis C. R&D projects are driven by patients’ medical needs for each disease area that in turn set strategy and scientific approaches.

DNDi does not have any research facilities and does not directly conduct research to develop its treatments. DNDi follows a virtual research model, whereby most research is outsourced with the R&D projects actively managed by DNDi personnel who are experienced in different aspects of pharmaceutical development.

DNDi proactively identifies research opportunities that have the highest potential to be translated into improved treatment options, then sources the research project into its portfolio, builds the full development plan, identifies and contracts the appropriate partners for each step in the development process, and manages the efficient advancement of the project throughout the pipeline.

Over half of the R&D staff are located in Geneva working in close collaboration with disease-specific R&D teams operating in regional offices located in Africa, Asia, and South America.


Purpose of the position

The Discovery Project Manager will assist the Head and Leader of Drug Discovery and plays a critical role for the progression of DNDi Lead Optimization (LO) projects up to preclinical candidate delivery.

Key focus of the role

  • Responsible for coordination and planning of cross-disciplinary activities within kinetoplastid diseases with a particular focus on the Lead Optimization project portfolio.
  • Leads and is responsible for the planning and coordination of all in vivo efficacy studies (disease models) with DNDi partners ensuring that studies meet project needs and complies with ethical standards.
  • Oversees total capacity of DNDi collaboration partners, regarding in vitro/in vivo DMPK, in vivo efficacy and exploratory toxicology/safety profiling according to projected DNDi needs.


Specific job responsibilities

Develop project plans

  • Develop and present project plans and work schedules for discovery studies
  • Monitor and report project progression against key milestones, key performance indicators, and budget
  • Provide scientific input to the Discovery team and to the development of the DNDi project portfolio
  • Contribute to the preparation of funding applications

Ensure quality/regulatory compliance and contribute to data management

  • Ensure projects and project partners comply with best practice, ensure regulatory compliance and adherence to ethical regulations, maintains appropriate documentation
  • Review reports and data generated by external partners (in vitro and in vivo ADME, safety pharmacology, exploratory toxicology, analytics and pharmacodynamics)
  • Review study protocols for ADME, efficacy, toxicology and related in vivo and in vitro studies as appropriate
  • Perform quality check and registration of PK and PD data into DNDi data management system(s)

Manage and supervise discovery projects

  • Assist in the selection of suitable projects and project partners
  • Manage project activities in collaboration with partners and consortia
  • Manage in vivo activities supporting DNDi Discovery team
  • Prepare and compile scientific data and to perform analysis on an ad hoc basis

Enable review of projects

  • Provide regular updates supporting progression reports and reviews at DNDi, partners or funding agencies, including budget updates
  • Compile data and to contribute to scientific publications and reports from DNDi projects and partners


Job requirements

Skills and attributes

  • Strong ability to use initiative, prioritize, multi-task, and work well under pressure to meet deadlines
  • Clear and systematic thinking that demonstrates good judgment and problem solving competencies
  • Strong communication skills in multicultural, multi-lingual environments
  • Strong ability to work effectively as part of a multicultural team
  • Well organized and structured
  • Strong analytical skills
  • Strong ability to provide high level support in project/program delivery
  • Strong ability to manage medium/large projects with budget management
  • Strategic thinking and leadership abilities
  • Strong management, negotiation, and advocacy skills
  • Has autonomy for taking actions and decisions
  • Strong ability to interact with external stakeholders
  • Lead and motivate a small team for optimum performance, supervising junior staff

R&D technical skills

  • Very strong knowledge of the drug discovery and development process
  • Very strong knowledge and experience in biology/pharmacology (in vitro/in vivo) and disease animal model(s)
  • Very strong technical writing skills (procedures, protocols, and reports)


  • Minimum 6 years’ experience of drug discovery/research focused on in vivo disease models/pharmacology preferably in an industrial environment (Pharma, Biotech, Translational Center)
  • Proven ability to work effectively in a team environment and matrix structure
  • Experience in managing external collaborations, CROs, and partner interactions
  • Experience of working in public and private sector is highly desirable


  • University MSc level degree or equivalent in biological sciences, pharmacology, or similar

Other requirements

  • Fluency in English
  • Proficiency in local languages desirable
  • Very good knowledge of Microsoft Suite
  • Travel required: up to 25%


Reporting line

  • Reports to the Head of Drug Discovery Programme with a dotted line to the Discovery Project Leader



  • Works in close collaboration with other disciplines at DNDi, e.g Translation and Pharmaceutical Development to progress the portfolio of DNDi projects
  • S/he establishes and maintains effective working relationships with DNDi’s external collaboration partners such as academic research institutions, expert consultants, and industrial partners.


Other information

  • Status: full time – permanent role


To apply

  • Deadline for application: Accepting applications until 20 January 2019
  • Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted